There are no hard and fast rules dictating when you should first arrive at a campsite. The one obvious exception is a campground’s established check-in time. It has to be honored so that campers on their way out have ample time to pack up and get moving. But other than that, when you arrive is up to you. Suffice it to say that there are definite benefits to arriving early.
What is early? Again, there are no hard and fast rules. Let’s just assume, for the sake of this post, that arriving early means within an hour or so of check-in time. If the next campground you are planning to visit has an 11:00 check-in time, arriving early would mean showing up anywhere between 11:00 and 1:00.
Here are a few reasons you might be happier arriving within that window:
1. A Better Choice of Campsites
Not all campgrounds allow guests to choose their campsites, but some do. When this is the case, arriving early means more choices. Arriving just before dark could mean that you get the leftovers. You might end up at the worst possible site in the entire campground.
2. Beat the Check-In Line
This next benefit could be a bit dicey depending on how popular a campground is. But it is worth a try. In many cases, arriving early means beating the check-in line. It’s a little bit like checking in to a hotel.
People are creatures of habit. When we drive on vacation, we tend to drive until about the time we would otherwise finish work. That means late afternoon. So when is the busiest time to check in? Usually between 3:00 and 6:00. Arrive two hours earlier and there won’t be as many people ahead of you at the check-in desk.
3. Take Your Time to Set Up
Arriving early gives you plenty of opportunities to set up with no pressure. You can take your time, go at a comfortable pace, and even stop every now and again to take a break. Meanwhile, your neighbors who arrive just before dark will have to race against the clock to get their RVs leveled and their skirting installed.
For the record, AirSkirts are easy enough to install even when the sun is going down. You just put each piece in place and inflate. Though you can do it in the dark, but we still think arriving early and setting up during the afternoon hours is the better choice.
4. Be Mindful of Your Neighbors
Finally, it is always a good idea to be mindful of your neighbors. If you arrive just before dark, you might find yourself still setting up as quiet hours approach. That is a good way to alienate your neighbors before you even get to know them. Arriving early solves that problem.
As a side note, there is something to be said about leaving a little bit later in the morning. Again, think about your neighbors. If you are breaking down your campsite so that you can be on the road by 7:00 AM, you might be disturbing your neighbors’ sleep. Wouldn’t it be more considerate and polite to wait an hour or two?
There are times when you cannot help but arrive at a new campsite late in the day. You might get stuck in traffic or be delayed by a breakdown. But if you can, try planning your travels so that you arrive earlier. You just might find that arriving early makes for a more enjoyable experience. And if not, you haven’t lost anything by giving it a shot.